Tribunal Prosecutors at Odds Over Ta An Genocide Case

Former Khmer Rouge official Ao An, better known by his revolutionary alias “Ta An,” should be tried for genocide and a slew of other crimes against humanity, the international co-prosecution at the Khmer Rouge tribunal has argued in its submissions.

However, in the latest disagreement between the court’s international and national sides, the Cambodian prosecutor argued that Ao An should not be indicted in order to expedite the current case against the regime’s second-in-command Nuon Chea and head of state Khieu Samphan.

International co-prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian argued in a summary of its submission that Ao An—who was charged with crimes in 2015 and last year—should be tried for the genocide of Cham Muslims and for the crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, enslavement, religious and political persecution, imprisonment and torture.

The deputy secretary of the Central Zone of Democratic Kampuchea (DK) should also be indicted for other inhumane acts including enforced disappearances, forced marriage and rapes within the context of forced marriage, Mr. Koumjian argued.

“The crimes he is charged with are of the most serious gravity, including genocide. Ao An’s level of responsibility for those crimes is extraordinarily high,” the statement said.

“The evidence demonstrates a direct connection between Ao An and the crimes, including evidence that he personally ordered the killings of thousands, particularly the Cham and other groups targeted by the DK regime,” it added.

Ao An convened a meeting between the five district secretaries within his sector and ordered them to identify Cham Muslims and “smash” them, it argued.

“His subordinates drew up lists of Cham, who were then systematically arrested and killed, and reports that the orders had been carried out were sent back to Ao An,” it stated.

Ao An, who now lives in Battambang province, also delivered orders to his underlings to ensure forced newlyweds were having sex in order to produce children for the revolution, it argued.

“Newlyweds were then typically monitored by Ao An’s subordinates to ensure that they consummated their marriages, causing both men and women to have sexual intercourse without the free consent of one or both partners,” Mr. Koumjian argued, adding that this constituted rape.

Six security centers, two execution sites and one worksite were identified as operating under Ao An’s jurisdiction, with tens of thousands of alleged victims.

Despite the international prosecutor’s strongly worded call for an indictment, his Cambodian colleague Chea Leang argued that Ao An should be spared trial due to not being senior enough or “most responsible” for crimes that occurred during the Pol Pot regime.

“Ao An…is not subject to the personal jurisdiction of the [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] that needs to be prosecuted,” Ms. Leang said, adding that the current case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan should be the focus.

This is not the first time there have been divisions between national and international sides of the court—which have been wrought with accusations of government interference—although the divisions have usually involved pretrial or investigating judges.

Goran Sluiter, a lawyer for Ao An, declined to comment and said defense arguments would be made in its submissions.

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